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Pet Pigs Can Feel Right at Home Now

October 14, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Pig owners went hog wild after the City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to allow potbellied pigs as pets.

Among those celebrating was Cher Houston, who now gets to keep her pet pig, Mu Shu, at her Anaheim home. "She's part of the family," Houston said of the pig, who has been her companion for nearly seven years.

Houston and other proponents from the pig rescue and placement group Pigs Without Partners had lobbied city officials to recognize potbellied pigs as pets rather than farm animals.

Councilman Bob Zemel opposed changing the rules, which had banned farm animals from properties smaller than 1 acre.

"This is going to create more regulations onto existing laws that the taxpayers simply can't afford," he said. "Our resources are better spent fighting crime than swine."

But Councilman Tom Tait said he thinks the ordinance is a good compromise because "it allows good owners to keep their pigs. If a person violates [the rules], they'll lose that privilege."

The council had twice postponed action on whether to adopt the new law, which allows pigs on properties smaller than 1 acre if the animals are spayed or neutered and are vaccinated against various communicable diseases.

The council next week will consider further regulations that would require pig owners to pay a fee to cover the cost of code-enforcement inspections and require a concrete surface for pig areas.

Houston and Mu Shu were thrust into the spotlight in July after a neighbor complained to city code enforcement officials about Mu Shu's odor. Houston was ordered to get rid of the pig.

Earlier Tuesday, Houston and Mu Shu--wearing faux pearls around her thick, bristly neck--had joined other pig owners and pets at a rally across from City Hall to draw attention to their plight if the animals were banished.

"They'd be instantly homeless," said Kelley Moon of Pigs Without Partners, who brought her pet, Penelope. Because pigs are intelligent and sociable by nature, removing them from their homes would be traumatic, she said.

Moon, who lives in Azusa, said there are an estimated 100 to 200 potbellied pigs living in Anaheim, but owners are keeping them in hiding for fear of having them taken away.

"We're representing all the voices of pet owners in Anaheim who are afraid to come forward," she said.

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